Surprising things you didn't know a pharmacist can do

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·Features and Health Editor
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When it comes to going to the chemist, most of us are familiar with filling out a script, or buying some painkillers or cough medicine.

But chances are you've likely never realised all the things you can actually get done at a pharmacy, or how else they can help you.

female pharmacist with face protective mask standing at open drugstore
There are a lot of misconceptions about what a pharmacist can and can't do. Photo: Getty

"There are lots of misconceptions around what your pharmacist can and can’t do for you," Pharmacist Montana Grenfell tells Yahoo Lifestyle.


Between their knowledge around medications, their ability to actually write you a medical certificate - yes! you don't have to always wait at the doctors office - or the administration of vaccines, here are a few things Montana wants you to know:

The truth is generics are just as good as brand names

"Pharmacists are often met with scepticism from customers when recommending generic branded alternatives to medication – there is a general stigma in Australia that generics aren’t as safe or effective as branded products. When in fact, generic products are must meet the same strict quality standards as the big brand names seen advertised. The only difference is the price. A reliable brand is APOHEALTH – who have provided a large range of affordable over-the-counter medicines to pharmacies and consumers alike for many years.

Close up of pharmacist hand taking meds from drawer
Montana says generic medicines are just as good as the brands. Photo: Getty

We can actually save you money

"If you’re someone with a chronic illness or if you have a large family, the cost of healthcare, including over the counter and prescription medicines, can really add up over time. By consulting a pharmacist about your issue first, we might be able to save you a trip to the doctor, recommend you a generic alternative, set you up with a loyalty program or help you get on a pharmaceutical benefits scheme – saving you money in the long run.

We can administer certain vaccines

"For certain vaccinations like influenza or whooping cough, we can save you waiting around in a doctor’s clinic for hours. Simply book online or pop in for a quick in and out visit. (And recently of course Pharmacies have been instrumental in the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine)

A pharmacist can give certain vaccinations like influenza, whooping cough, or Covid-19. Photo: Getty

You should finish that course of antibiotics

"Even if you’re already feeling better, a full course of antibiotics should be taken – this ensures illness causing bacteria is killed or prevented from multiplying. If you stop a course half way through, you risk getting a secondary infection. Plus, you’ll be helping to reduce the global problem of antibiotic resistance, which affects the economy and the environment.

We can issue medical certificates

"This is a big one – we can provide you with a medical certificate for minor ailments and the occasional sick day, saving you from waiting around uncomfortably in a doctor’s clinic.

Being a pharmacist is more than sticking labels on boxes

"Our processes ensure the medication prescribed to you is safe for you, won’t interact with any of your other medications and that the dosage is appropriate for your clinical needs – we are your safety net before you start taking the medication so, please allow us the time to keep you safe.

Female pharmacist
It turns out pharmacists can issue medical certificates. Photo: Getty

Yes, we do need to ask you lots of questions

"Those questions help us to help you. It’s the way we gather information and decide what the best advice or recommendation is for you. Honest answers are the best as it allows the best health outcomes for you.

You don’t need to feel embarrassed

"Much like your local GP, we have heard it and seen it all before, and it’s all part and parcel of the profession we love. Plus, we have private consulting rooms available too, so no topic needs to be off limits.

We know medications inside and out

"We went to university for many, many years and love being able to put our knowledge to use. We’re experts when it comes to medication, so ask us questions – we love to help you!"

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